Kermit Distribution Tape

Kermit tape
9-track 1600bpi Kermit distribution tape, 1980s - click image to enlarge
From 1981 until about 1997 we shipped Kermit software on magnetic tape (and other media) all over the world, 32,523 shipments altogether to almost every country except South Africa because of Apartheid, but including the USSR and (by circuitous means) Cuba, and out-of-the-way places like New Caledonia.

At first the work was done by the Computer Center Systems Group (i.e. programmers) but the demand for tapes grew to the point where we had to create a whole Kermit Department in 1987, complete with Business Manager (Christine Gianone), a production staff of full- and part-timers affectionately known as the "Kermites"... Bob Tschudi, Ken Suh, Peter Howard, Max Evarts, Andy Newcomb, many more. At first they were headquartered in the old IBM 1620 raised-floor machine room in the back of 7th-floor Watson Lab with a big VAX and refrigerator-size tape drives (Factory #1); later they were moved to the 9th-floor penthouse with more modern and compact equipment (Factory #2).

The entire Kermit Distribution fit on a single 9-track tape in early days but by about 1990, five tapes were required to "collect the whole set". We were able to make DEC-20 Dumper tapes, ANSI Standard Label tapes for VMS and various other OS's, and OS Standard Label tapes for IBM shops. After 1997 almost everybody had access to the Internet and could download whatever they needed, no trains-boats-and-planes required.